IS THERE A POLARITY BETWEEN AESTHETICS AND THEORY?


I have found an interesting source which discusses this, among other things. Carl Dahlhaus's Esthetics of Music (I'll put the full bibliographic reference in later--for now the call # is ML3845.d2913) begins with a quotation from Arnold Schoenberg's Harmonielehre (quoted in Dahlhaus pg.1--I think the translation is Roy Carter's).

"If I should succeed in presenting to a student our art's craftsmanship as thoroughly as a carpenter can always present his, then I should be content. And I should be proud if I could declare, paraphrasing a well-known saying: I have relieved composition students of a bad esthetic [idiot question #1: aesthetic & esthetic--is the difference trivial or not?], but given them instead a good theory of craftsmanship."

Dahlhaus points out that Schoenberg's polarization of craftsmanship and musical esthetics could have some undesirable consequences. "To put it drastically, composers may become mechanics, trapped in exclusively technical problems, and listeners may become presumptuous dilettantes who believe they are soaring above the situation when in fact they are simply incapable of honing in on it."(pg.1) Yet Dahlhaus also claims that Schoenberg's attempt at polarization was, at least in part, justified by the contemporary definition of music esthetics, which amounted to " a metaphysics of the beautiful in music misused by journalism to defend an established situation." Schoenberg's own experiences illustrate this justification to some degree. Witness, for example, the violent public (and journalistic) reaction given to his music from the audiences in Vienna. Witness the case of Verklaerkte Nacht [idiot message #2--how do you get German/French/etc. letters in WordPerfect 6.1?] which was rejected from a Viennese composition festival [I think that's what it was--I'll look it up and make this reference more specific] because one of its central chords--a dominant thirteenth in final position could not exist in theoretical terms.

Taking this into consideration, a direct question can be formed: Does music analysis function as a kind of mediator between craftsmanship--or the study of music theory, and the study of music (a)esthetics? [I realise that, in order to validate this question, one must assume first of all that craftsmanship can be equated with music theory (as I think it is in the case of Schoenberg.), and secondly a definition of music aesthetics must be formed (see "The Aesthetics of Music" in The New Grove.)]